The return of Victor Martinez is coming fast.
According to Steve Kornacki of MLive.com, the slugger will head out to Triple-A Toledo this week for a two-game minor league rehab assignment. If everything goes according to plan, he will be back in a Tigers uniform on Wednesday.
Martinez did blocking drills Saturday and was cleared by team trainers for the rehab assignment after showing good agility and lateral movement.
V-Mart has been sidelined since April 18, when he strained his right groin muscle on a check swing in Seattle. He was batting .250/.292/.417 with two home runs and nine RBI through 16 games this season, serving mainly as the Tigers’ designated hitter.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.